Echinacea is known for boosting our immune systems and helping to fight off coughs and colds. Discover the benefits of echinacea tea in our latest blog post.
When it comes to fighting off the common cold, there’s no better-known herbal remedy than echinacea. This daisy-like plant is used around the world to boost our immune systems and help us recover faster from upper respiratory infections.
Echinacea is native to North America but is now grown in many places around the world, including in the UK. Also known as the coneflower, it has daisy-like flowers, usually with purple petals.
However, this plant isn’t just a pleasing addition to your perennial border. Echinacea has been used in indigenous medicine for many centuries. In Native American culture, echinacea is prized as a treatment for many different conditions, including wound healing, bites, stings, toothache, arthritis, and the common cold.
More recently, echinacea has been adopted by mainstream Western herbalism. It’s now a popular home remedy for coughs, colds, and the flu.
In this blog post, we’ll look more closely at the benefits of echinacea tea and how you can use it in your own herbal medicine cabinet.
What Are the Benefits of Echinacea Tea?
1. Boosts the Immune System
Echinacea’s best-known benefit is its ability to boost our immune systems, helping us fight off infections and diseases.
This herb is rich in active compounds that support our immune response, including alkamides, which help to stimulate phagocytosis – a crucial part of how our immune system identifies and destroys pathogens.
As a result, research shows that taking echinacea can reduce our chances of catching a cold by up to 58% – making this an ideal herb to turn to during cold and flu season.
2. Fights Off the Common Cold
The boost that echinacea gives our immune systems doesn’t just help us avoid getting a cold in the first place either. Once we get sick, taking this herb might help us recover more quickly.
Coughs and colds are an unavoidable part of life, especially during the winter months. With no effective over-the-counter treatment, most of us just resign ourselves to treating the symptoms and hoping it doesn’t last too long.
However, taking echinacea may be able to improve our recovery time by 1-2 days, which is why so many people turn to it when they start to feel under the weather.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Although inflammation is part of the body’s immune response, chronic inflammation is associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis.
Fortunately, echinacea is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation and soothe the symptoms of associated diseases.
For example, people with osteoarthritis in their knees reported reduced pain and swelling after taking a supplement that included echinacea.
4. Treats Minor Skin Issues
The anti-inflammatory properties of echinacea also make it a useful herb to turn to for minor skin issues and to speed up wound healing.
One of the traditional uses of this herb is treating bites and stings. However, it may also help with skin conditions like acne and eczema.
That’s because echinacea contains compounds with antibacterial properties.
When Should I Drink Echinacea Tea?
Since its main benefits are immune-system support and helping us recover from upper respiratory tract infections, the best time to drink echinacea tea is when you’ve been exposed to someone with a cold – or when you first notice symptoms of a cold yourself.
Ideally, drink echinacea tea after a meal – it can sometimes irritate your stomach lining if you drink it on an empty stomach.
We suggest drinking 2-3 cups a day for up to 10 days.
What Are the Side Effects of Echinacea Tea?
Most people can drink echinacea tea without experiencing side effects, although it is best not to drink it on an empty stomach.
For some people, echinacea can cause mild side effects. These might include headaches, nausea, dizziness, constipation, stomach aches, or skin irritation.
If you do notice any side effects, stop drinking the tea immediately. You may also want to avoid it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding – research into the effects of echinacea in pregnancy is limited.
People with autoimmune diseases (like lupus) should also avoid echinacea, as should those with HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, or multiple sclerosis. And you should check with your doctor before introducing a new herbal remedy if you are on medication or have an ongoing health condition.
But for most people, echinacea tea is safe to drink.
Can I Take Echinacea Every Day?
Most herbal teas are safe to drink every day. However, echinacea is one that is best saved for when you need it.
This is because there’s some risk that long-term use of echinacea might impact your liver. Studies on this are mixed – some say it is fine to take echinacea daily for up to four months, while others recommend no more than eight weeks.
To be on the safe side, we suggest having echinacea tea on hand for when you need to fight off cold symptoms, but drinking other herbal teas, like our NutraDefence blend, the rest of the time.
How to Make Echinacea Tea
Although you can use fresh echinacea to make tea, you’ll need to use a lot more than if you turn to the dried leaves. The dried herb also lasts longer and is easier to store.
Instead of using loose-leaf echinacea to make tea, we recommend opting for teabags. They are much simpler to use, and the clean-up is quicker too!
Simply place your teabag in your favourite mug and pour over freshly boiled water – about 200 ml is ideal. Then, leave it to steep for 4-5 minutes.
Give the teabag a good squeeze and set it aside – you can always reuse it later. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your brew.
We like to blend echinacea with elderberry – these two herbs complement each other perfectly and are the ideal combination when you want to prevent or treat a cold.
Find them together in our flagship Elderberry & Echinacea herbal tea.